Coronavirus and Inequality

Published — October 13, 2020

States in ‘red zone’ for coronavirus cases grow to 26, White House says

Signs in a hallway reminds students to wear masks and distance themselves at Fox Trail Elementary School, Friday, Oct. 9, 2020, in Davie, Fla. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Family gatherings are driving outbreaks, the Task Force says in reports obtained by the Center for Public Integrity.


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More than half of states are in the “red zone” for new COVID-19 cases, meaning they had more than 100 new cases for every 100,000 residents, the White House Coronavirus Task Force said this week in its latest report to governors.

The reports, which are not published by the White House, also said that not a single state remains in the green zone for coronavirus cases. Last week Vermont was the only state in that zone.

In last week’s reports, 24 states were in the red zone for new cases. This week, Texas moved from the red to orange zone, but New Mexico, North Carolina and Rhode Island joined the red, bringing the total to 26.

For the second week in a row, the Dakotas, Montana, Wisconsin and Utah led the nation in new coronavirus cases. North and South Dakota also ranked No. 1 and 3 respectively, for virus deaths per 100,000 population.

A chart that details the national ranking of states of new coronavirus cases per 100,000 last week.
The Oct. 11 reports from the White House Coronavirus Task Force included a ranking of states based on their rates of new cases per population. (Screenshot of report)

The Center for Public Integrity has been collecting the reports, which it first revealed in July. Then, 18 states were in the red zone for new cases. The White House at the time advised residents in red-zone counties to “wear a mask at all times outside the home,” limit gatherings to 10 people and not go to gyms or bars or eat inside at restaurants. 

The advice in recent reports from the Task Force is less stringent and less specific. “The majority of cases are from interaction at home with friends and family,” the White House told red-zone Kansas this week. “Kansans should know that such gatherings must be limited in size and include both masks and social distancing.”

The states in the red zone for cases in this week’s report (meaning they had more than 100 new cases per 100,000 residents in the week prior):

  1. North Dakota
  2. South Dakota
  3. Montana
  4. Wisconsin
  5. Utah
  6. Idaho
  7. Iowa
  8. Wyoming
  9. Oklahoma
  10. Tennessee
  11. Arkansas
  12. Kentucky
  13. Kansas
  14. Nebraska
  15. Missouri
  16. Alaska
  17. Minnesota
  18. Mississippi
  19. Alabama
  20. Indiana
  21. South Carolina
  22. Illinois
  23. North Carolina
  24. Rhode Island
  25. Nevada
  26. New Mexico

The states in the red zone for test positivity in this week’s report (meaning more than 10 percent of tests in the state were positive in the week prior):

  1. Nebraska
  2. Montana
  3. Idaho
  4. Utah
  5. California
  6. South Dakota
  7. Wisconsin

The states in the red zone for deaths (meaning they had more than more than two new deaths per 100,000 residents in the week prior): 

  1. North Dakota
  2. Arkansas
  3. South Dakota
  4. Missouri
  5. Tennessee
  6. Florida
  7. Mississippi
  8. South Carolina
  9. Georgia
  10. Kansas
  11. Alabama
  12. Iowa

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